Sheep hunter rescued after getting stuck on steep terrain in Knik River Valley

An Alaska Army National Guard helicopter crew rescued a hunter Wednesday after he was stranded on unstable, steep terrain at a high elevation in the Knik River Valley near Cottonwood Creek, the Guard said in a statement.

A man hunting sheep became stranded on a 3-foot-by-3-foot ledge on a 40- to 50-degree slope, and he was unable to move up or down the terrain, the Guard said. He was stuck in snow, Alaska State Troopers said in an online report.

The hunter activated an SOS using an inReach satellite communication device, according to the Guard. Troopers said they were notified of the alert at 1:25 p.m.

Troopers then requested assistance from the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

A UH-60L Black Hawk medevac helicopter left JBER with a rescue crew at around 3:30 p.m., and was directed to the man’s location by rescue controllers with the Alaska Air National Guard, according to the Guard.

The hunter was at an elevation of 5,500 feet when he was hoisted up by the medevac aircrew, the Guard said.

In the statement, Staff Sgt. and flight paramedic Damion Minchaca said the helicopter made two passes over the location before spotting the hunter. The crew at first did not see him because of his camouflaged hunting gear.

“He used quick thinking, turning his camouflage jacket inside out to signal us down with the inside fleece’s bright orange color showing,” said Minchaca, with Detachment 2, G Company, 2nd Battalion, 211th Aviation Regiment.

The ledge was so small that there wasn’t enough room for both him and the hunter to stand, Minchaca said.

The hunter was outfitted with an aviation rescue vest and hoisted into the helicopter, and they flew to the Palmer airport, according to the Guard.

The man declined medical treatment or evaluation, troopers said.